Young girl with blonde hair sits on a bench at Charlotte airport with her hands in the air as a plane takes off

In the world of photography, especially in the age of social media and digital sharing, the question of model releases is a pivotal one. As a photographer, I've been asked why I don't make all of my clients sign model releases. While it might seem like a straightforward step to protect my work and ensure its usability, my approach is rooted in a deep respect for the privacy and comfort of those I photograph. This can be a touchy one for some photographers. We do own the rights to our images and we do need to use photos to advertise, but we also owe it to our clients who choose us to understand them as well.

Privacy is a fundamental human right, and it's something I take very seriously in my work. Not everyone is comfortable with their images being shared publicly, and it's crucial to honor that. By not insisting on model releases for every client, I respect their autonomy and give them control over how their images are used. I do ask clients, however, photography for me is a storytelling art and you have the right to share your story or keep it more personal.

Photography is a collaborative process, and trust between the photographer and the subject is paramount. Insisting on a model release can sometimes feel like a breach of that trust, especially if the client hasn't fully understood the implications. By prioritizing open communication and mutual respect, I foster a positive working relationship with my clients, which often leads to better results. I do not have it in my contracts that you must sign a release. I only share the model release after the client has seen their images. They have the option to sign or not. I do NOT tag clients on social media (unless I am asked to), nor do I share names on blog posts if the usage of their images is granted, I highly respect privacy in this digital world.

Different cultures have different attitudes towards privacy and publicity. What might be acceptable in one culture could be considered invasive or inappropriate in another. As a photographer, it's essential to be culturally sensitive and adaptable. By being mindful of these differences, I can ensure that my work is respectful and inclusive.

Not everyone has the capacity to give informed consent, such as minors or individuals with cognitive disabilities. In these cases, obtaining a model release can be ethically complicated. As a responsible photographer, I prioritize the well-being of vulnerable individuals and ensure that their rights are protected. I never share images that could be used against them in the future in a negative way.

Not every photo needs to be shared far and wide. Sometimes, the purpose of a photoshoot is purely personal, meant to capture memories for the client's own enjoyment. In these cases, a model release may be unnecessary, as there's no intention to use the images for commercial or promotional purposes. Most people are not 100% comfortable in from of the camera. Many of us have insecurities and don't feel like we should even be "seen," but you should be remembered in photos for your family. You are so important! BUT, if you do not feel 100% comfortable in your own skin, I would never want to parade your photos around, these are for YOU and your memories, not mine.

Do I want to share all of your cute faces? YES! Every person I have photographed has intrigued me and I have felt so honored sharing your stories, but in a world where personal information is increasingly commodified and privacy is often sacrificed for the sake of convenience, it's more important than ever for me and other photographers to prioritize the rights and dignity of you all. While model releases have their place, they should never supersede the fundamental principles of respect, trust, and understanding. By approaching each client with empathy and consideration, we can create meaningful and ethically sound work that enriches both the art of photography and the lives of those we photograph.